Last week, I decided to give my 8th graders a day off reading and a day to play Clue - They were pumped!
A DAY OFF READING!!!
The next few class periods were filled with learning and insight, but not for the kids. I'm the one who did the learning that day.
The State of Minnesota has spent millions of dollars testing students every April to be sure schools are cutting the mustard, but I say why not take a look at Colonial Mustard to get "A Clue" at students' reading and perseverance. Reading rules to a game is a "real life" application of why it's important to read and read well.
Some students just dug into their work, maybe they didn't want to read the instructions for a board game, but they realized that they needed to get the task at hand done in order to play the game. On the other hand, some students looked at me with blank looks on their faces and hollered out; "I don't get it". These kids were waiting for someone else to explain the rules to them.
As we started to play the game on various spots on the floor, I noticed some students taking charge. Some students would skim the rules again to be sure they were doing it right. Some students had never played the game before and even though they had a hard time with the directions of the game, they watched what everyone else was doing and asked questions. I was proud of these kids, because even though Clue can be a difficult game filled with higher levels of thinking, it was these kids who decided that they were up to the challenge. I was most frustrated with the frustrated kids. Students who didn't try because they were scared to try. Students who hollered out "I don't get it" without reading the instructions. Some of these kids just sprawled on the floor with their cards showing and complaining that the game was too hard.
Next year, I will requisition 6 or 8 Clue games. On the first days of school, I will assign 4 kids to a game and watch how they play the game. I will be able to learn their learning styles and levels of perseverance. I will see which kids have parents who take the time to play board games with their kids. I will see which kids need coaching through their reading assignments.
I will know more about my students and abilities from this than any test anyone could give them.